For the millions of people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the government-issued stimulus checks are a welcome source of financial relief. At the same time, the eligibility rules for this extra income can be confusing, especially for those receiving disability benefits. Here are the answers to the most common questions about how Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) affects your eligibility for past and future stimulus payments.
Yes. Recipients of SSDI or SSI benefits* qualify for stimulus checks as long as certain conditions are met:
*The Social Security Administration provides two types of benefits for disabled individuals. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are intended for workers with long-term disabling conditions. In addition, disabled children and adults with limited income may qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI), which are based on financial need.
Recommended Reading: Social Security Disability and Taxes
During 2020, the federal government passed two stimulus bills – the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March and a second $900 billion package in December. In addition to direct stimulus payments, both bills included enhanced unemployment benefits, employee tax credits, paycheck protection loans for businesses and eviction moratoriums.
Legislators are currently working on a third stimulus package that will also include direct payments; however, the details are not yet finalized. Check back here for updates on the new bill and how it might affect SSI and SSDI recipients.
Here is a summary of the payments provided under both 2020 stimulus bills:
$1200 to individuals earning less than $75,000/year**
$2400 for couples with a combined income under $150,000/year**
$500 each for dependents 17 and under
Non-U.S. citizens were excluded from receiving stimulus checks in this package
$600 for individuals earning less than $75,000/year**
$1200 for couples with a combined income of less than $150,000/year**
$600 each for dependents 17 and under
Couples with “mixed status” (one U.S. citizen and one non-citizen) are eligible for stimulus payments under this bill
**Stimulus checks for those who earned more than the stated income limits were reduced by $5 for each $100 of excess income.
No. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), stimulus checks do not count as income. Therefore, recipients are not required to pay taxes on these payments.
Nonetheless, there is one exception. If you did not receive the full amount you were entitled to, you can claim what you are owed as a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 federal income tax return. However, if you owe back taxes, the IRS can potentially garnish that money.
Social Security beneficiaries who were not required to file tax returns for 2018 or 2019 are still eligible to receive stimulus checks. This is also true of others who fall into the IRS category of “non-filers.” In addition to SSI and SSDI recipients, this group includes Veterans and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries and people with incomes below a certain level.
If you did not file a tax return and you got the first stimulus check, you should also receive the second payment without taking any action.
However, disability recipients who did not file tax returns for 2019 or 2020 may not receive the dependent child payments. This may also be the case for those who did not submit non-filer information to the IRS when the first stimulus checks were issued.
If so, this IRS web page provides information on claiming the money you are owed through a Recovery Rebate tax credit.
If you received less than you should have in the first and/or second stimulus checks, you can still claim what you are owed. However, you will have to do this by requesting a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 federal income tax return. This means you will have to file a tax return for 2020, even if you have not been required to file in the past.
Instructions for claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit can be found here.
Those who did not receive one or both checks can use the free tracking tool on the IRS website.
The first two stimulus payments were determined by a couple’s or individual’s adjusted gross income (AGI). The first check was based on your 2018 taxes, or your 2019 taxes if you had filed your returns before the payments were issued. However, the second check was based entirely on 2019 tax information.
Therefore, if you lost a job or your income decreased for another reason during 2020, you could be entitled to more than you received in the second check. If so, visit the IRS website to request a Recovery Rebate Credit for the amount you are owed.
If your income increased in 2020, you may have received more than you were entitled to in the second stimulus check. If so, you do not have to return the excess amount unless your adjusted gross income in 2020 exceeded the eligibility limits. Additionally, if those who received a check by mistake because they do not meet the eligibility requirements listed at the beginning of this post may have to return the funds.
Unfortunately, fraudsters have been using a variety of underhanded tactics to gain access to people’s bank accounts or obtain other sensitive information. Here are some tips to help you avoid falling prey to these scams.
If you are having trouble obtaining Social Security Disability benefits, or if your initial application has been rejected, we can help. Our knowledgeable Social Security lawyers will make sure you receive the income you are entitled to as quickly as possible.
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